Sunday, February 08, 2009


The Finals - First Leg Review

It certainly looks like both of the semi-final ties are effectively over. Melbourne rarely looked troubled against an Adelaide United who have well and truly come down from their Asian Champions League high, and the Mariners continued their steep slide against Queensland.

Immediately after receiving his deserved A-League Coach of the Year award, Aurelio Vidmar reminded us that he can still make some oddly maladroit decisions. It should have been clear to anyone with eyes that starting Paul Agostino alone up front against the Mariners simply didn't work, yet there was the veteran again, ploughing another lone furrow at Hindmarsh. And again, Adelaide looked impotent in the final third.

At the other end, Michael Valkanis's vulnerability has increased exponentially in recent years, as the opening goal showed (although Vidmar has cause to be angry with young Michael Marrone, who basically gave up on chasing Danny Allsopp to the eventual rebound). Melbourne were too crafty in defence, too effective on the break, and too powerful up front throughout. Were it not for a couple of fantastic saves from Eugene Galekovic and a surprising miss from Archie Thompson at the close, it could have been an absolute humiliation for the home side.

Over in Gosford, the Mariners' woes up front continued apace. This time, Matt Simon too was affected, while Dylan McAllister surely needs some time on the bench until he can recover his confidence, which appears shot to pieces at present. It's hard to fault Lawrie McKinna over his selection: Matt Osman did well in the problematic midfield anchor position, and Paul O'Grady deserved another shot after a fine effort in the game against Adelaide. Yet the fact that the Mariners no longer have a single attacking player in form - Adrian Caceres had one of his worst games of the season - surely decided the issue.

Ultimately it didn't matter that Tahj Minniecon showed only brief glimpses of brilliance amidst the clumsy touches, or that Sergio van Dijk was unusually quiet. A simple goal from a set-piece, a foolishly conceded penalty, and a single good chance for the home side while Queensland were down to nine men...not pleasant reading for a Mariners fan. Indeed, McKinna's team never looked like troubling a ten-man Roar, with Matt McKay adroitly bossing the show in midfield as usual.

Do either of the away sides have a chance next week? If Adelaide make the necessary changes, I feel they can at least give it a decent shot. In the Mariners' case, however, I seriously doubt it.

i`d say both sides have a chance - they have to win the match by 2 - 0 to send it to extra time. so they aren`t out of it by any means ...

did anything they do in the first leg point towards that kind of turnaround? nah.

i kinda felt for the reds fans, seeing their stadium packed, decked out in red, great atmosphere, and their team looking very much second best.

even with the shorter season we currently have, it is pretty amazing to look at some of the turnarounds that have taken place. ccm was on song at the start of the year, roar was outside the four and looking in, sfc looked good, the reds were yet to start their asian adventure (or the tail off after it) ... only mv has had something like consistency this year ...

I'm waiting for some discussion of a certain Mitch Nicholls.

Do we have another player with the magical Cahill positioning?
i`m looking forward to a full season from nichols at the roar.

tidy, composed, mobile, and knows when to be where.

how much can he improve? will be interesting to watch.

Hi mate,

Sorry to post a comment for that but I've been trying to find an email address to contact you. Do you have any? Is it possible to get that on the blog somewhere?

...Hi mate,

Sorry to post a comment for that but I've been trying to find an email address to contact you. Do you have any? Is it possible to get that on the blog somewhere?...

My apologies, I keep forgetting it doesn't appear on the blog anywhere.
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